Two years ago, Tsingtao, China's largest brewery, announced that it planned to begin exclusively importing Australian wine into China, leveraging its substantial resources and distribution network to diversify into new areas of the Chinese beverage industry. Tsingtao has proven itself eager to target higher-end segments in recent years, and with Australian wine exports expected to reach $200 million this year, a figure that's sure to grow as drinking habits continue to shift throughout China, the lure of wine looks to be too much for the company to ignore.
Now, however, the company looks to be moving into the second phase of its Australian import strategy. As Jin Zhigou, Tsingtao's chairman, recently told The Australian, his company also plans to process Australian bulk wine at its Qingdao headquarters as "it's a better way to ship wine and it's more tax-effective."
"Tsingtao beer has established a good reputation and has credibility, so when we choose to bring wine from Australia this will help people establish a trust and credibility on the wine," said Jin. "We will also use Tsingtao' s distribution network in China which will help reduce the distribution and marketing costs for the wine."
Chinese wine imports have doubled over the last few years, with 50 percent up of Aussie wine. Australia currently enjoys 20 percent market share in China, second only to France. According to Wine Australia, China will become Australia's biggest export market by 2015.
Australian imports may be on the rise in China, but as Jing Daily recently pointed out, so are the number of Australian counterfeits. While many would likely say what China doesn't need right now is more bulk imports, if done correctly, this Tsingtao-Australian collaboration could be a win-win, not only for Tsingtao and the Australian wineries but also for China's burgeoning wine consumers, who would have access to better -- but still affordable -- wines with Tsingtao's more trustworthy "stamp of approval."